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Love & Marriage

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how to say goodbye to the ones you love {a tribute to my grandfather}

Today would have been my grandfather's 85th birthday. 

He's been gone now for nine days, and it is still hard to comprehend that he's gone. The thing with death is that it always comes before we are ready to say goodbye. We all long for just one more day, one more hour, one more second with those we love. But death, like so many other things in this world, is not something that we can control. I can't live in regret, and neither can you. What we can live in is the memories that we shared with the ones we love. We can celebrate their lives and believe that we are made for #connectionnotperfection. 

Join me on the blog today as I pay tribute to my grandfather, a Veteran, an athlete, a man who loved the Lord. As we celebrate his life, I pray it gives you comfort in saying goodbye to the ones you love. 

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3 things that will make your marriage stronger

Marriage is companionship. Spouses see every side of our personalities. I wish that Raleigh only saw the best side of me but I'm so very grateful that he still loves me, even in my worst moments. Read on to learn how we will help our marriages be stronger than they were before.

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how to not go crazy in the chaos

Good Morning Friends! How has your summer been? I've loved following along with everyone who is using the #70daysofsummer on Insta! Can't believe how fast time has flown this summer. Today, I'm sharing over at The M.O.M. Initiative about what's been going on around our house for the past two weeks. Hope you enjoy! chaos

"They found the kidney stone," he told me on Monday. "And I'm going to have surgery today at three."

This was the conversation that my husband and I had after his doctor's appointment last week. While I was relieved that he would be having surgery to relieve the pain he had felt in his back for over five months, I was completely caught off guard by the timing. "Today? At three?!"

I'm a full-time working mom who hasn't accumulated enough vacation time. We have three kids five and under who would need to be babysat. I had just meal-planned a whole week's worth of meals. It's crazy how fast plans can change.

To read more, head on over to The M.O.M. Initiative.

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the greatest of these is love {day 20: New Year's 21 Day Prayer Challenge}

day 20

Last week was supposed to be the end of our New Year's 21 Day Prayer Challenge. But instead of finishing up the challenge, my family experienced one of its' worst seasons of sickness.

It was awful.

Just in case you want to know how bad it was, here's a PG re-cap:

-Adeline first came down with a stomach virus two weeks ago. After a trip to the doctor, she received some antibiotics and by Friday, she looked like she was in the home stretch. So, Raleigh and I left the kids with my parents for a mini-vacation to the beach.  We enjoyed PF Chang's and an easy night to ourselves.

-Then, on Saturday, I woke up with my head in the toilet. Instead of relaxing at the beach, I found myself curled up in our bathroom the whole day. We came home and on Sunday morning I felt a little better. But then I threw up after a prayer gathering for my women's conference on Sunday night. Woo-hoo.

-Monday: I was home from work and Maralee woke up saying that her stomach hurt. By midday, she was sick too so we stayed home together. Adeline was back at school and my mother-in-law had to pick her and Ridley up.

-Tuesday was a blur. If I wasn't sleeping, I was sick. I was trying not to get ill or anxious but I knew how much work I needed to be doing and couldn't. Then, to make things worst, Ridley and Raleigh got the bug too.

-I had hoped that by Wednesday, I would be better but I had a terrible night on Tuesday. That morning, Maralee went to my parents, Adeline went to school, Ridley went to my in-laws and me and Raleigh went to the doctor. We came home to an empty house, took some medicine, and both went to sleep. It was a very romantic day.

-Then, on Wednesday night, Lu Lu got hit by a car going to the bathroom. But she lived! How our little six pound schnoodle survivied a car accident is only for God to know. I honestly think she survived because he knew I couldn't handle her dying this week.

lulu

-Thursday: I finally went to work and Raleigh worked half a day. Our vet called and said Lu Lu needed surgery and should stay overnight. Maralee was ready to come home because she hadn't seen Adeline in a whole day and Ridley didn't sleep at all the night before. So, I picked everyone up and we came home. Two hours later, Maralee had a poop explosion while sleeping on our couch (our new couch BTW), Adeline had a meltdown, and Ridley had a temperature.

-By the weekend we were semi-back-to-normal. Everyone's stomach viruses have moved into a cough/runny nose/fever/sore throat but we are making it.

baby dedication

It's been a rough couple of days and I've had to learn how to love my people and be loved by them too. Raleigh and I have had to take care of one another and we've had to rely on our parents to take care of our children. We've been short-tempered out of exhaustion but have had to find a way to speak kindly to one another. I had to let go of certain expectations I had for my work week and focus on the needs of my family instead.

Love is a feeling but it's also an action.

Loving my people while we were sick was something I had to practice. I needed to serve them compassionately. Maralee needed to go on a stroller ride outside each day and when I picked her favorite yellow flowers for her because she was too weak to stand, she smiled and told me, "You're the best." Adeline didn't get my attention but she soaked up the attention of her grandmother. She was loved by others last week and that was okay. Ridley boy, on the other hand, needed me to hold him. He needed to nustle against me and his favorite thing to do was lay his head on my chest. Raleigh showed love and I showed him love by us tackling the stomach bug cleaning together. Maybe I should stay up late more often because our house has never been cleaned that intensely!

Last week, my plans changed and so did my prayers. My prayer was for daily survival for each member of my family. I can't tell you how many times I asked God to rid us of this mess. I learned once again to give God control over my circumstances.

With that said, I want to share with you what is coming up in February on the blog. If I've learned anything over this experience, it is that love is the greatest gift we can both give and receive. I'd like to explore how we show love and who we show love to over the next few weeks with our February series, "Love Your People."

love your people

In February, we'll be exploring how to love our children with a post from Lori Wildenberg, author of Raising Little Kids with Big Love, and I'll be giving away one of my favorite new books, Mothering From Scratch. I'm also excited to offer some practical ways to love your neighbor this Valentine's and how I love to love my husband. It should be fun!

Also, if you haven't received your free copy of my e-book, God's Love for Me, it will be available for download all month long. Back in 2012, nineteen lovely bloggers contributed their own stories about what God's love means in their lives to my first e-book, God's Love for Me. If you haven't received your free copy already, just follow the steps below to download yours today!

 

So, here are the steps to get your FREE copy of God's Love for Me:

1. Fill out this form to subscribe to illuminate.

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2. Once you have completed that form, a confirm subscription e-mail will pop up in your mailbox. This is for us to make sure you aren't spam. Please follow the directions and click confirm.

3. This will lead you to a page where you can download the e-book.

It is literally as easy as 1-2-3. The book can be viewed on any digital reading device and can be saved as a PDF on your computer. Please, instead of sending a copy to your friends, will you send them to our website instead to fill out the form? This will help us track how many downloads the book receives. If you have already signed up for the newsletter before today, a copy is already being sent your way. Thank you!

Let us love our people today.

 

If you'd like to learn more about our New Year's Prayer Challenge, you can read this post about joining us for the next 21 Days.
To receive the weekly challenges via e-mail, please fill out this form: * indicates required

 Missed a day? Catch them here:

Day 1    Day 2     Day 3    Day 4   Day 5    Day 6   Day 7  Day 8  Day 9  Day 10  Day 11  Day 12   Day 13  Day 14  Day 15  Day 16  Day 17   Day 18 Day 19

Want to go deeper?
                                    • Complete the weekly prayer challenge sent to you by e-mail
                                    • Read Chapters 12-15 this week in The Circle Maker
                                    • Follow along with the New Start 15 Bible Reading Plan.
                                    • Listen to today's song from our playlist as you circle your prayers

https://play.spotify.com/track/6PslXfq8evoYlMd82A4CYv

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the art of praying {day 18: New Year's 21 Day Prayer Challenge}

day 18

On a weekend at our alma mater, my husband and I ate at a wonderful new restaurant in Auburn. It's called Acre and it is all about the farm-to-table experience. When we arrived, we were seated in an alcove decorated with clean white tablecloths and calm grey interior walls. The place was rustic yet chic. Looking at the menu, I was excited to dig in.

They are known for their shrimp and grits (which I ordered!) and their carrot cake bread pudding (y'all, it was sinfully good). Our waiter came, dressed in jeans and boots with a long Williams-Sonoma like apron pulled over his head and secured at his waist. He was young, probably an older college student, but the way he spoke about the food y'all made me believe he had been studying the art of food dictation for years. As he was sharing the night's specials, one part of the menu that he strongly encouraged us to try was the charcuterie.

The what?

A charcuterie (shahr-koo-tuh-ree) is the art of salting, smoking, brining, and curing of meats. We chose the pepperoni (trust me, it was not a bunch of bright red circles), along with the strawberry jam and goat cheese. They brought this out on a long wooden board, all cute and tiny, along with some bread. May I get a yum?

While I ate every bit of my food, the thing about that experience that most satisfied me was the thought that prayers are much like a charcuterie. Prayer is an art, something that takes time, patience, and skill. To truly enjoy the rich flavors of a relationship with God, we have to continually salt, smoke, brine, and cure our prayer time with him.

Just as our stomachs hunger for food, our souls hunger for God.

In his book, The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson says that we have to keep circling our prayers and sometimes prayers will never be answered in our lifetime. Other times, our lives will be an answered prayer from those that have gone before us and prayed. In Acts 10, there was this guy named Cornelius that lived in Caesarea. He was a Gentile, which meant he was not a Jew, one of God's chosen people. But Cornelius and his family were "God-fearing, gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly (Acts 10:2)." One day he had a vision where an angel of God told him to go get a man named Simon who was called Peter.  Meanwhile, Peter was also praying. Verse ten says that he became hungry and wanted something to eat. He fell into a trance and saw a large sheet being let down with all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter, Kill and eat (Acts 10:9-13)."

But Peter, being a Jew, did not eat anything impure or unclean. Then a voice said to him, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

At that time, Cornelius' men came and asked Peter to come with them. He went and when he arrived at Cornelius' house, he notices all the people that were there.  As he spoke, he realized the purpose of the vision he had experienced. Peter said, "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean (Acts 10:28)."

So he sat down with Cornelius and all the Gentiles and heard about Cornelius' vision. He realized that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. As he was speaking this truth about God, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

Friends, do you see the hugeness of this moment? Mark Batterson says, "If you are not Jewish, your spiritual genealogy traces back to this moment." Because Cornelius prayed and believed all those years ago, we are able to receive the gift of being Christ followers filled with the Holy Spirit.

I don't know what prayer you have been circling these past eighteen days. This Thursday, we will end our 21 Day Prayer Challenge but might I urge you to continue to pray? Even if your prayer hasn't been answered in 21 days doesn't mean that it won't ever be answered. Just like in the story of Cornelius and Peter, your prayer could be waiting on someone else's obedience. God hears the cry of your heart and don't become disheartened if you don't receive an immediate answer. Keep praying and think long. Because just like a charcuterie, prayer is an art.

If you'd like to learn more about our New Year's Prayer Challenge, you can read this post about joining us for the next 21 Days.
To receive the weekly challenges via e-mail, please fill out this form: * indicates required

 Missed a day? Catch them here:

Day 1    Day 2     Day 3    Day 4   Day 5    Day 6   Day 7  Day 8  Day 9  Day 10  Day 11  Day 12   Day 13  Day 14  Day 15  Day 16  Day 17

Want to go deeper?
                                • Complete the weekly prayer challenge sent to you by e-mail
                                • Read Chapters 8-11 this week in The Circle Maker
                                • Follow along with the New Start 15 Bible Reading Plan.
                                • Listen to today's song from our playlist as you circle your prayers

https://play.spotify.com/track/3ThtFzQBcQmjDV6gqXRwAr

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